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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

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Cocktails

The New Vegetable Cocktails

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Garden Variety Margarita

© Courtesy of The Wayland
Garden Variety Margarita

While fresh-squeezed fruit juices have become common on serious cocktail menus, some of America’s best bartenders are turning to vegetables to incorporate seasonal and bitter components into their drinks.

A new spot with creative, vegetable-heavy cocktails is The Wayland in New York City’s East Village. “Most of the drinks I make come from the kitchen,” says owner-mixologist Jason Mendenhall. His refreshing Garden Variety Margarita was inspired by a cold remedy he creates at home, featuring kale and ginger juice.

For the bar’s version, he added smooth silver tequila, lime juice and agave; he serves the cocktail on the rocks with a rim of smoked sea salt. “I wanted to capture that vegetal component without scaring people away,” he says. Five days after opening, the vivid green drink became the bar’s most popular cocktail. Next up on The Wayland’s rotating drink list is a beet-juice-and-mezcal concoction, and Mendenhall is working on radish bitters as well as umami-packed mushroom bitters.

But The Wayland is not alone in trying to integrate fresh vegetables into cocktails. Here are some bars serving savory drinks to look for across the country.

Urban Union, Chicago: Recently opened, Urban Union makes a Celery Gimlet that goes down like “a cold cup of vegetable juice,” according to co-owner Jason Chan. It’s a little more complex than that, of course, and features house-made celery bitters, Hendrick’s gin, green chartreuse, St. Germaine, fresh lime juice, verjus (acidic, unripe grape juice) and a fresh celery stalk. 1421 W. Taylor St.

The Bent Brick; Portland, OR: This upscale neighborhood tavern is aggressively local, with all products, including spirits, coming from the Pacific Northwest. The Border Crossing cocktail combines a beet-based “shrub”—syrup typically made with fruit juice or vinegar—with apple brandy, smoked tea and black pepper.

Bar Congress, Austin: The Miso Mule is a Japanese take on a Moscow Mule that’s served in copper mug with crushed ice. Created by Portland transplant and bar manager Adam Bryan, the salty-smoky drink has 12-year-old Yamazaki whiskey, miso paste muddled with chunks of radish and honey, and tart Italian lemon soda.

Mateo’s Cocina Latina; Healdsburg, CA: This Mexican spot offers a seasonal Martini de Calabaza made with spiced organic pumpkin puree, cream and Reposado tequila.

Related: America's 50 Best Bars
Beautiful Cocktail Recipes
Garden-to-Glass Cocktails

Bars

Mario Batali: Great Digs, Great Charity

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Mario Batali

Mario Batali's vacation house on Lake Michigan made a top 10 list of celebrity chef homes this month, but Batali doesn't have much time to relax these days. He's one of 10 chefs uniting for Food & Wine's new charitable campaign, Chefs Make Change, and he even vows to chop off his ginger ponytail if The Mario Batali Foundation can raise $500,000 by February 7. As if that's not enough of a reason to donate, his programs help feed, protect and educate children. Donate and "like" Chefs Make Change here.

Related: Mario Batali Recipes
Star Chefs' Dream Recipes

Recipes

California Lifts Infused-Booze Ban

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Fennel and Fig Vodka

© Frances Janisch
Fennel and Fig Vodka

Good news for California cocktail enthusiasts: Governor Jerry Brown has announced the end of a Prohibition-era law that made it illegal for bars to infuse spirits with other ingredients, the New York Times reports. California's bars have been infusing liquor for years with no issues, but recently the State Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control started cracking down. Celebrate the West Coast’s break from the vestiges of Prohibition by creating some of your own tipsy infusions, such as an aromatic fennel-and-fig-infused vodka, plus more:

Chai-Infused Cognac
Beet-Horseradish-Infused Vodka
Jalapeño Tequila
Jasmine Gin
Nori Apple Brandy
Strawberry Pineapple Pisco

Menus

A Menu Edward Scissorhands Would Love

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Tim Burton (American, b. 1958), Untitled (Edward Scissorhands), 1990, Pen and ink, and pencil on paper, 14 1/4 x 9" (36.2 x 22.9 cm), Private Collection

© Twentieth Century Fox, © 2011 Tim Burton
Tim Burton (American, b. 1958), Untitled (Edward Scissorhands), 1990, Pen and ink, and pencil on paper, 14 1/4 x 9" (36.2 x 22.9 cm), Private Collection


As I reported a few weeks back, museum restaurants are undergoing a new wave of innovation—a happy trend for those equally obsessed with food and art, like the amazing trendsetters we profile in our September 2011 issue. In Los Angeles, chef Kris Morningstar geeks out on the chance to get creative with the menu at Ray’s & Stark Bar, the new Renzo Piano–designed restaurant at the L.A. County Museum of Art. For the current Tim Burton exhibition, Morningstar consulted with the famously kooky director to develop menu specials like White Rabbit with Tea in a Mushroom Forest, a bacon-wrapped saddle of rabbit with chanterelle mushrooms and pistachio crumble. “Our goal is not to be pretentious,” says Morningstar, “but we felt that, for Tim Burton, the menu should be a little bit off the wall.” The Burton classic Edward Scissorhands (my personal favorite) meets its culinary counterpart in a dish of razor clams (ha ha) and burnt octopus in squid-olive broth, garnished with a trimmed “hedge” of fresh herbs. If you need a cocktail to get into the macabre mood, try the Dr. Burton at Stark Bar: The rum-and-amaro-based concoction evokes the flavors of Burton’s favorite soda, Dr Pepper. The specials will be available through the exhibition’s close on Halloween. Next up: architecture-inspired plates to celebrate the upcoming California Design exhibit this fall.

Recipes

Bobby Flay Joins the Chicken Dance

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Chicken Dance spotlights a fantastic Food & Wine chicken recipe every day.

© Ngoc Minh Ngo
Honey Mustard Chicken

Chef and TV powerhouse Bobby Flay joins spiky-haired, tenderhearted Anne Burrell for the third season of Worst Cooks in America in February, the Food Network announced this week. His no-nonsense criticism should bring the desired competition-series tears, but it’s less embarrassing to learn from his dishes in your own kitchen. Flay’s Honey Mustard Chicken recipe has a sticky, sweet-and-spicy glaze inspired by the Savannah Bee Company’s tupelo honey. Active cooking time is 20 no-pressure minutes, so there’s no reason to get weepy.

Wine

Belinda Chang Takes Over the Monkey Bar

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© kate krader
Belinda Chang is the Monkey Bar's new GM & wine director.

When last we saw Belinda Chang, she was accepting a James Beard Award for Outstanding Wine Service at The Modern in NYC.  When last we left the Monkey Bar, also in NYC, it was celebrity-studded, with those amazing Ed Sorel murals, but no significant food or wine to speak of.

Now let's celebrate the fact that Chang is back, as the new GM and wine director at—you guessed it—the Monkey Bar! Chang has big plans for the place. "We're going to turn things around, the wine list, everything, is going to be super fun," she says. "The Monkey Bar is a place where
you feel like you're going out, like you're special; the list will feel like that, too." So she'll introduce magnums of as many wines as she can think of, including special ones, made just for the Monkey Bar, served by the glass. She'll also have wines picked out for some famous names who might show up. "For Lady Gaga, I'll serve her some crazy Italian spumante. Maybe an older Erbaluce, which is nutty and voluptuous and decadent. I think she'd love it," says Chang.

Next, look for a notable chef to take over the kitchen, sometime soon.

Winemakers

All Good Things

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You know the rest of that line, right? Well, it's with some small amount of sadness that I am saying that about this blog: It must come to an end. I've had a terrific time writing it, but we've decided that in the end it's a bit strange, for a magazine that's all about bringing together food and wine, to have separate blogs on those topics.

So, from here on out, any wine blogging that I (and Megan Krigbaum, Kristin Donnelly, and various other stalwart folks) do will instead appear in F&W's primary blog, Mouthing Off. No less wine coverage, just a different venue. See you there.

Ray Isle

Beer

Home Brew How-To

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Beer Craft book

© Rodale/design by Jessi Rymill

 

It’s hard not to geek out on beer this summer with the explosion of beer gardens and radical new micro (and nano) brews. Beer expert Christian DeBenedetti urges beer enthusiasts to take things to the next level and start brewing at home.
 
“Give a person a six pack, they'll drink for a day," says DeBenedetti. "Teach them to brew…" OK, you know the rest. These days, what was once a messy affair has gotten simpler and way more fun with the advent of smarter books and equipment. Suffice it to say that the joy of tasting your first successful home brew isn't easily put into words. If you can follow a recipe, you can make your own beer, and it's cheaper in the long run, too. If you get really good, you might even show off your skills in cool New York City bars like The Diamond, where, in addition to a Shuffleboard Biathlon, there is the Brew 'n’ Chew, a home-brew and home-cooking competition.
 
Start with the new book Beer Craft: Six Packs From Scratch by William Bostwick and Jessi Rymill. "Home brewing is easy—you probably already have most of the equipment at home," says Bostwick. "But it's also something you can geek out over and get a gallon of great beer in the process (and mess up the kitchen a little)." The genius of this book is that it takes an incredibly complex topic and boils it down to quaffable parts without dumbing down the key points of becoming a serious homebrew honcho. You've got everything from basic definitions of beer ingredients to detailed yeast strain recommendations and an incredibly helpful primer on off flavors and insights into genre-bending sour beers.
 
Once you have the book, find a local home-brew shop (some Whole Foods stores carry equipment) or order a home-brew kit and you're ready to go.

Wine

Wining and Dining in Hotel Lobbies

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Latitudes Bar

© Le Meridien Hotels & Resorts

 

The hotel lobby is probably not the most memorable experience of most trips, but the Le Méridien hotel chain is changing that with its new LM100 program,  which taps creative minds to rethink the lobby experience through food, wine and art. Each hotel will feature a bar called Latitudes—by day, a coffee bar staffed by protégés of 2002 World Barista Championship winner Fritz Storm, and by night, a wine bar with tasting classes curated by sommelier and author Linda Grabe. For the morning menu, NYC chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten has developed signature breakfast dishes like espresso-steamed eggs to serve with “eye opener” juice shots like Cherry Lemon Black Pepper. Creativity reigns, right down to the details: International artists such as Sam Samore and Hisham Bharoocha have created pocket-size artworks for each key card, making them unique, collectible art pieces. Le Méridien Barcelona is the first hotel in the chain that features the new lobby program, which will begin rolling out to hotels worldwide this fall.

Cocktails

A Style-Minded Cocktail Collaboration

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sidebar

© Crafted
The Sidebar Project: cabinet and cocktail glasses


Anna and Andrew Hellman of Teroforma and Darin Montgomery and Trey Jones of Urbancase had design-savvy home mixologists in mind when they dreamed up the Sidebar Project, a liquorcabinet with its own complementary barware set. Making its debut at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair, the piece is the first in a new collaborative program, Crafted. The idea behind Crafted is to have established design studios step out of their area of focus and work with Teroforma to create new concepts for the home. The Sidebar Project, was born from a conversation the four designers had about how tough it is to design when you don't know the context of where your piece will "live" as well as a mutual appreciation for a well made cocktail.  For the collaboration, Urbancase designed the retro-style cabinet with a decorative motif that reappears as the cuts in Teroforma’s cut-crystal tumblers and cocktail glasses. At ICFF, the designers gave away drink recipes specific to each Sidebar cocktail glass. Click here for more cocktail ideas.

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